Collingwood, ON's Ben Young will start from the first spot on the grid for Sunday's Mopar Pro Superbike race at the Grand Bend Motorplex, after making history in the Dalton Timmis Insurance SuperPole at the second round of the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship.
Young, riding a Scot-Build BMW S1000RR, is the first to unseat three-time defending champion Jordan Szoke since the current SuperPole format was introduced in 2016. The Mopar Express Lane BMW Motorrad S1000RR of Szoke was forced to settle for second in the qualifying session, while Blysk Racing's Samuel Trepanier will start Sunday's action from third.
Despite being a perennial front-runner, Young is still chasing his first career victory on Canadian soil and is confident that the win could finally come his way on Sunday.
"The bike is great. We worked hard all weekend, put in some good laps, and found consistent fast laps too which is good for the race," Young said. "I just have to see what we can do, see what [Szoke and Trepanier] do, and hopefully hang in to the end and pull out a win."
The 2016 Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year also lamented his performance from a year ago when he crashed out of the battle for first, causing a red flag in what was ironically Szoke's only loss of the last three seasons.
"It was really unfortunate last year. Not the result we wanted at all," Young said. "But we feel good this year and we're just glad we can put on a show and hopefully come out in P1."
As for Szoke, the 12-time Pro Superbike Champion is in unfamiliar territory after failing to secure pole position, though he is still confident heading into Sunday's race.
"It was hard because the track was warm at times and then cool in other spots, so we couldn't really throw down one fast lap, but we still got a lot of them in," Szoke said. "We just have to do what we can later and win a good race."
The Lynden, ON rider was quick to praise Young for his performance and believes the Grand Bend Motorplex will suit his rival's riding style heading into the race, saying it's "his kind of track."
It's notable that Szoke switched to a brand new S1000RR in the SuperPole session, the first time he piloted the machine on the National circuit this season, though he is unsure which bike he will ride in the feature race Sunday afternoon.
"It's not right where we want it yet, but it's getting there," Szoke cautioned.
Trepanier, who is starting to turn things around after a rough season opener at Shannonville Motorsport Park, is looking forward to challenging his fellow BMW riders in the race.
"We are very happy. We took everything step-by-step because the conditions are not ideal," said the St. Isidore, QC native. "But we could have pushed more, so hopefully we can stick with Ben and Jordan later today."
The front-row trio will be followed by local youngster Steven Nickerson (Hamilton, ON), who took his best ever qualifying result aboard a Honda CBR1000RR, while Beaconsfield, QC's Michael Leon will start from fifth aboard a Royal Distributing sponsored BMW.
The Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike class could feature a thrilling battle up front, with last year's runner-up Mitch Card (Ripley, ON) grabbing pole position aboard his Fast Company Yamaha YZF-R6, as the top four were separated by just under a second in the morning session.
Blackstock, ON teenager Jake LeClair won his third-consecutive race to start the season in the brand new Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike class, as the Yamaha YZF-R3 rider was joined by fellow Yamaha pilot Alex Berthiaume (Vimont, QC) and Kawasaki Ninja 300 rider Ryan White (St. Thomas, ON) on the podium.
Local BMW rider Andrew Haick (Innisfil, ON) will start from pole in the Magneti Marelli Amateur Superbike class, while Mississauga, ON's Jason Vettorel earned the top grid spot for the Parts Canada Amateur Sport Bike class aboard his Honda CBR600RR.
Racing is scheduled to kick off at 1:00 pm with the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike class following the opening ceremonies, while the Mopar Pro Superbike Feature Event is slated to begin at approximately 3:00 pm.
Full results and the rest of the weekend schedule can be found on the official series website at www.csbk.ca.